dementia-artClinical depression is a monster like no other.

Today, on my 5,502nd consecutive day (15.07 years) of assisted living in three separate communities I collectively call home, I split a Reuben with Beth, a fellow resident trying to make sense of the world around her.

But making sense becomes more difficult every day for Beth and the millions like her who suffer from cerebral infarcts…

Each day I witness the coming apart of a human being – slowly and oh so surely.

And confusing is the word. Yes, there are days when Beth’s monster avoids the internal, ongoing struggle for brain-mapped realty. But most days it looks something like this: Beth 12 – Monster 126.

In the interim, Beth is unlikely to fully enjoy a meal, share a conversation or just enjoy the present moment without the tortuous incurrence of dementia.

Where did Beth’s depression originate, and am I likely – as someone who spends as much time as I do with cognitively impaired residents – to experience any level of “second hand” contagion.

The origination point is most likely Beth’s six year-battle with Alzheimer’s, and the likelihood of my direct exposure and the focus of this study. The following journal summary aims to discover whether a nonintentional form of mood contagion exists and which mechanisms can account for it. In these experiments participants who expected to be tested for text comprehension listened to an affectively neutral speech that was spoken in a slightly sad or happy voice.

The authors found that (a) the emotional expression induced a congruent mood state in the listeners, (b) inferential accounts to emotional sharing were not easily reconciled with the findings, (c) different affective experiences emerged from intentional and nonintentional forms of emotional sharing, and (d) findings suggest that a perception–behavior link (T. L. Chartrand & J. A. Bargh, 1999) can account for these findings, because participants who were required to repeat the philosophical speech spontaneously imitated the target person’s vocal expression of emotion. (PsycINFO Database Record)